Top 5 Android stories (that didn’t happen) of 2012

We’ve covered the top 5 Android stories of 2012, but what about all the ones that got away? For every rumor that came true, several more turned out to be false. Major acquisitions brought about little change in the industry. Seemingly ignored devices and platforms…continued to be ignored.

These are the stories that never happened. The devices that never existed. The industry-shaping shakeups that didn’t spark. There was plenty that left us wanting more in 2012, but here’s our top 5.

5. First Android@Home accessories go on sale

In 2011, Google demonstrated how its Android operating system would reshape the way we interact with the environment around us. Android@Home was debuted as a way for your Android smartphone to become the hub of the automated home. We saw how a smartphone could be used to control light bulbs, adjust a thermostat, even help out with home security. Over a year later, we can safely pronounce Android@Home dead-on-arrival.

In the past year we have seen several great LED bulb concepts with accompanying smartphone apps. We’ve built a DIY Android-controlled thermostat. We’ve been introduced to numerous products that do what Android@Home promised it would do. So where did Google’s zeal for home automation go?

It’s easy to declare the concept ahead of its time, but given what’s already available it really isn’t. We’d like to see Android@Home in our homes come 2013, but at this point it’s hard to determine if Google is even actively working on the project anymore.

4. Windows Phone emerges as serious competitor to Android

Raise your hand if you own a Windows Phone device. OK, maybe that’s not a fair question (this is an Android-centric publication, after all), but you see where I am going. Windows Phone was expected to be a major factor in the mobile industry this year, and while Microsoft managed to make plenty of noise with the launch of such well-crafted devices as the Windows Phone 8X from HTC, they haven’t got much market share to show for it.

Analysts have predicted that Windows Phone will become a serious contender to Android and iOS over the coming years, but if 2012 is any indicator, people just aren’t buying into it. Sure, Windows Phone 8 looks pretty nice and has some intriguing functionality (and plenty of ad dollars backing it), but the platform has a long way to go if it wants to go toe-to-toe with the big boys.

Maybe we’re being a bit hasty. Perhaps 2013 will prove us wrong with a little more time on the clock for Microsoft. But for now, the buzz about Windows Phone has less to do with the platform itself and all to do with how it will survive a market already dominated by Google.

3. Renewed focus on Google TV

In the summer of 2010, Google unveiled a bold new smart TV concept based on its Android platform. Fast-forward to 2012 and we haven’t come very far at all. Sure, Google TV now has Google Play access, a modest selection of apps, an overhauled interface, and a few new device partners, but I challenge you to recall a single earth-shattering development for Google TV over the past year.

The platform, for the most part, has stagnated, and Google doesn’t seem to have much want to change that. Google TV was virtually nonexistent at the most recent I/O, with time instead focused on Project Glass and the over-priced Nexus Q. Yeah, about that Nexus Q. Google, you couldn’t have spent the same R&D dollars towards a Nexus Google TV device?

Is 2013 the year for Google TV? Or is the year for Google TV to kick the bucket? At least we have our Vizio Co-Star to keep us occupied in the meantime.

2. Multiple Nexus smartphones from all the major manufacturers

Before a single new Nexus device dropped this year, rumors started swirling that Google was rethinking its strategy on branded devices. Where Google had previously released a single flagship phone per year, speculation suggested that we would see up to five different Nexus handsets from manufacturers like LG, Sony, and HTC [spoofed Nexus X from Sony pictured above].

Of course, the LG device did launch as the Nexus 4. And we did get multiple Nexus devices in the form of the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets (I don’t even want to mention the Nexus Q again), but lo and behold nary another Nexus smartphone was to be found. But how we wish things were different!

The shifted Nexus strategy made sense on paper. It would provide customers with several off-contract smartphone options, all with the latest version of stock Android and a direct upgrade path. Any potential favoritism by Google could be negated by choosing several manufacturing partners instead of one. It seemed like a win-win for all involved.

Does a revamped Nexus program launch in 2013? We can hope. At the very least, several options to choose from would alleviate the current stock strain plaguing the Nexus 4.

1. Big changes after Google completes acquisition of Motorola

In 2011, Google initiated the [mostly patent-fueled] acquisition of Motorola Mobility. In 2012, the buyout was formally completed. The Android ecosystem would never be the same…

Except it has, for better or worse, remained about the same as it was before Google purchased one of its biggest Android collaborators. Yes, this was probably part of Google’s strategy. They wouldn’t want to scare off partners like Samsung and HTC with the thought that Google might actually jump into the manufacturing business.

But the only news Google’s acquisition has really stirred is talk of downsizing, job cuts, and most recently the sale of Motorola’s set-top box division. And those patents? They haven’t been doing much for Google, either.

Perhaps with a year under their belt and other Android partners at ease, Google will decide to really shake things up in 2013. But for now we’re left with more of the same BLUR-laced handsets that we’ve seen from Motorola for years.

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What was your biggest non-story of 2012? Do you agree with the ones we have here or was there something else you were just dying to see this year? Vote in the poll and sound off in the comments below!

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  • Thomas

    Thought we would have had a Nexus RAZR by now

    • robjackson81

      Almost as insightful as “FIRST!” Thanks for your contribution :)

      • Thomas

        Hmmm ??

        • Jwhap

          Funny!

      • Thomas

        Rob..if you were responding to my original post, I think you my have taken it the wrong way / misunderstood it. My bad.

        • robjackson81

          Ha I assumed by “DELETE” you meant the article should be deleted.

          • Thomas

            Ahhhh…ok. I was responding to the wrong article. Never mind everyone, carry on. Rob don’t be a stranger bro, good to see you around these parts. Give the boys a nice Xmas bonus this year, especially Chavez he deserves it.

          • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

            +1 O_o

          • aeok18109

            Don’t be all surprised Nancy. Your hair alone should be grounds for a raise.

  • y2b4u3d

    the funniest one is what windows got | Android FTW | :)

  • NIGHTSCOUT

    Have we forgotten about the Nexus Q already????

    • Esau Zavala

      Oh yes!!!! i really want to have a chance to use that some day. May i ask if you have used it and if so how was it?

      • NIGHTSCOUT

        I wish I had one….

      • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

        I had one, and it developed a nice layer of dust on it :/

    • Kaostheory

      The Q is just a more expensive nexus 7 with a different shape and a color ring instead of a screen. I don’t get it.

      • NIGHTSCOUT

        It has that NFC playlist queue, where you just select the songs on your phone or tablet, and make the Nexus Q play it, without draining your battery on your phone. It links up with your phone’s cloud library. That’s the feature I was interested in the most.

        • Kaostheory

          Theoretically with the right software, the nexus 7 or even a ps3 or xbox could do the same thing. All any of these devices are are computers and by blocking the consumer from using there full potential, so you buy more of the same, except with a feature unlocked or a connection not on a similar device is a ripoff. Although not wireless, I bought an mhl connecter and can mirror my phone on my tv, my ps3 wired to my computer accesses all my media.

  • koolkat2

    I’m fairly certain windows phone will pick up the pace. It really is a great OS. As for the pure Google Motorola stuff, meh. OEM skins are actually good now. Imagine if every phone ran vanilla. It would be pretty damn boring. Sorry but im all for skins. If i want vanilla ill get a nexus or a phone with dev support. Most of us that care about pure Google know enough to root and rom anyway. Average consumers would probably think nature ux is prettier than stock.

  • bmg314

    If no one actually got the Nexus 4, did it actually happen? ;-D

    Seriously, tho, wasn’t the original rumor five Nexus devices, and we all just assumed that meant multiple Nexus phones?

    • Scott Schopman

      Ya 5, because this year was the 5 year anniversary of Android if im not mistaken….

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamille-Browne/1184321457 Jamille Browne

      Lets see Nexus Q Nexus 4 Nexus 7 Nexus 10… We are missing a Nexus…..

  • No_Nickname90

    I was hoping for a Qwerty Nexus device. =.[

    • GreenyO

      It won’t happen.

  • kascollet

    Still looking for a high end SMALL Android phone (S3 Mini = s€&t !).

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamille-Browne/1184321457 Jamille Browne

      Why? so that you complain about how you are the 1% not getting treated fairly in regards to updates and device performance?Maybe you should just get an iPhone oh wait they are growing too. Get with the times.

      • kascollet

        Sorry but I don’t understand the relation between size and updates or performances ?????
        The same S3 Mini with an S4 Pro and 720P resolution. Is it really that weird for a request ?
        Who the heck decided small meant entry level ?

        • John Wentworth

          The average non-apple consumer, based on sales, even though though some people complain about growing screen sizes, the phones with the largest screens sell much better. Just look at the S3 and the Note 2. Many people said that the Note line was way too big and wouldn’t sell well, but it does. and the S3 at 4.8 inches is the best selling smartphone.

          Smaller non-apple high end phones just don’t seem to sell as well as their bigger brothers.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamille-Browne/1184321457 Jamille Browne

          Sales, money talks what sells is bigger devices do you honestly think apple would enlarge the screens if it wasn’t a reason they are diminishing in terms of market share? Devices such as an s3 mini will take a backseat to the regular s3 and note 2 because sales would be less which means that development would be less important to them for that device plus history has shown anything less al than a manufacturers best high end android device gets updates late if they get updated at all

          • kascollet

            This analysis seems wrong to me, especially considering the fact that the iPhone is still the best selling device (you talk about the entire Android platform, not single devices) and the other fact that despite having a bigger screen, the iPhone 5 manages to achieve that progress in a SMALLER form factor than his elders. sufficient screen in a trully small phone, that’s what I’d like very much to be able to purchase, with Android on it, of course. People say Android devices give you a broader choice than iPhones but that’s not true. All high end Android phones have the same features more or less. I want real choice (whatever the price !) and I don’t see that at all in this normalized world.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamille-Browne/1184321457 Jamille Browne

            How is it not true that android gives a broader choice than iPhones? there is only 1 iPhone and many different androids devices. If you think of it all the way you are all phones now and previous are all the same features more or less. You do have a real choice its just so that if you don’t choose a hot device you will need to turn to xda for updates and support for higher versions. In general there shouldn’t be any problem with a device as long as it runs GB(no i don’t mean JB) it will run just fine as long as you manage the device right, thats all it boils down to essentially anyways. iPhone is the best selling device because its seen as a luxury to people apple products is all seen as a luxury do you think if iOs iPhone wasn’t an apple product there would be so many? nooo.. they would go the way of blackberry because really they followed the same exact model as apple, give you the same thing year after year yet android took them on and now they are near bankrupt. S3 took best selling device away from apple last quarter if im not mistaken as well. You can buy a small android phone just don’t expect it to be much of any fun.

          • kascollet

            Dude, you’re beginning to go off topic I’m afraid :-) What’s the point of all this bla bla about Apple ?
            I’m speaking solely about form factor in the Android world, and I say there’s no choice when you consider high-end devices. Every year dictates ONE size for Android flagships, bigger and bigger, and this is plain ridiculous.
            Basically, in 2011 we had 4.3″ (witch I already find too big for MY taste), 2012 was the year of 4.6-4.8″ phones, everything announced for 2013 will feature this same 5″ full HD screen… and so on. This is total nonsense.
            I got the money for something powerful, with a good battery life and Android 4 running on it, but I don’t want to carry an aircraft carrier around.
            Is it a taste for luxury ? Maybe. So I shall be refused the right to luxury with an Android phone ? You must be kidding, or what you demonstrate is that Apple has a point.

  • http://twitter.com/remmbermytitans Victor Gonzalez

    What about Project Majel?

    • gokusimpson

      Isn’t that Google Now?

      • http://www.facebook.com/fadi.16364 Fadi Obaya

        Yes, it was. :)

  • scoter man1

    They REALLY need to make it so there are multiple nexus phones next time. Or get a company that actually knows how to launch something, and make it so Google doesn’t have anything to do with the launch.

    • ThomasMoneyhon

      Actually I think this post got it wrong. I think the original rumor was for multiple ‘nexus devices’ IIRC it didn’t say ‘nexus phones/smartphones’ so I take it to say that the rumor DID pan out when you have nexus devices from Samsung, ASUS, and LG.

  • Eludium Q36

    Apple TV. It was rumored for 2011, then 2012, and now 2013. The story that never fails to fail.

  • Adrian Casillas

    I was pretty excited that their might be a Sony Nexus device, as I have owned many Sony mobile phones and actually use the Xperia TL at the moment. Sad that it wasn’t true. Hopefully Sony get’s a shot at a Nexus device if they can ever get their act together!

  • http://twitter.com/joey89924 joey

    Maybe you should just get an iPhone oh wait they are growing too.
    DS18B20

  • Chris Pinola

    i would say i’m pretty bummed about ALL of these things. also “Verizon Allows Samsung Galaxy Nexus Software Updates Direct From Google” would have been a great story :(

  • erni74

    I’m surprised that Android Ice Cream Sandwich is one year after the release until nearly 25-30% market share

  • http://twitter.com/Protweetlo Nick Prochilo

    No big changes with Motorola?? Have you picked up a Razr HD and tried the latest version of Motoblur? It’s virtually stock. To boot, their updates have come very quick compared to what they used to. Sure, they’re still bootlocked, but only on VZ who demands it that way. They also offer dev phones for off contract and an unlock site to unlock your device (if compatible). I’d say thats a big change.

  • mgamerz

    ‘Thunderbolt receives ICS’

  • kaozhi